Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson are set to fight in a five-round UFC interim lightweight title fight this Saturday in the co-main event of UFC 209, which takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nurmagomedov and Ferguson are ranked #1 and #2 respectively in the UFC lightweight rankings and will look to establish themselves as the interim champion to take on undisputed champion Conor McGregor in a title unification bout.
Leading up to their fight at the UFC 209 open workouts, Nurmagomedov gave Ferguson some praise and feels that “El Cucuy” is a tougher challenge than McGregor.
“I think he’s much better than Conor,” Nurmagomedov said of Ferguson on Wednesday (transcribed by Bloody Elbow). “Conor has very good boxing skills, but Tony has elbows, knees, unpredictable. His ground game is good, his conditioning is good. Maybe Tony’s boxing is not good like Conor’s boxing, but MMA fighter, who’s better? I think Tony is better.
“I think this is my toughest match-up, but we’ll see. Nobody knows. Maybe this fight finishes in first round? Nobody knows. I have tough opponents before, like (Rafael) dos Anjos, (Gleison) Tibau, Michael Johnson. These guys are beasts too. But Tony is a little bit different because his style make him different, and he have nine-win streak. We have to respect this.”
“The Eagle” added that McGregor is not a true champion as he was given a lightweight title shot against then-champion Eddie Alvarez without any UFC lightweight fights prior to fighting for the lightweight belt.
“I don’t care about (McGregor). You guys know his Uncle Dana give him gift. He jump over all contenders and he fight for the title,” he said. “I no understand this fight. He catch him a couple times, he go down, Eddie Alvarez. This fight, for me, is fake fight. We have real fight now. This is the people’s main event.”
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This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 3/2/2017.